How to fix Australia’s biggest legal scandal

Andrew L. Urban.

It could be the start of a black joke: ‘have you heard the one about the chief forensic pathologist of a modern Australian state who was not qualified to do his job, was discredited by the legal establishment, yet he continued over decades to perform thousands of autopsies and the like, including 400 serious criminal cases….’ The people of Massachusetts might reply, ‘that’s not a scandal … THIS is a scandal…’  Continue reading

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Was Joanne Lees’ hair tie a smoking gun?

Andrew L. Urban.

In the wake of our July 21, 2020 story covering the CJZ produced Channel 7 documentary mini series, Murder in the Outback, in which Bradley Murdoch’s conviction for the murder of Peter Falconio was examined, several readers commented on the fact that the series didn’t mention the hair tie found on Murdoch’s holster – which some see as compelling evidence against Murdoch. It allegedly belonged to Falconio’s girlfriend, Joanne Lees. Murdoch had it in his possession … gotcha! Not quite.  Continue reading

Posted in Case 12 Bradley Murdoch | 16 Comments

Innocence Files reveals the really guilty

Andrew L. Urban.

Justice at the hands of ‘The System’ is sometimes no justice at all, it seems, as the new 9-part series The Innocence Files (Netflix) reveals how police break the rules, forensic experts use junk science, prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence and judges fail the wisdom test. But some witnesses also contribute to wrongful convictions – which can take decades to correct, if ever. Continue reading

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Sue Neill-Fraser trial flashback – the defence closing submission

Marking 11 years since her arrest (August 20, 2009) and while awaiting the oft-delayed start of Sue Neill-Fraser’s further appeal against her conviction for the murder of Bob Chappell (now scheduled for November 2, 2020), we publish the transcript of the closing submission of her defence barrister, (the late) David Gunson SC, as a case briefing for those not familiar with it, but also as an opportunity to re-examine the various elements that give rise to serious concerns about the safety of the conviction. Continue reading

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Expert Witness 101 – inform, not advocate

Andrew L. Urban.

Eve Ash, the Melbourne filmmaker whose documentary, Shadow of Doubt, opened a Pandora’s Box on the Sue Neill-Fraser (many say wrongful) murder conviction, has produced a 4-part eLearning course, Giving Expert Evidence, which has now (July 23, 2020) been released on an acclaimed online learning library based in USA. It begins by urging expert witnesses not to advocate but inform. Oh, and beware of ego …  Continue reading

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Victoria’s Court of Appeal – too many judgements overturned, bring on a CCRC

Andrew L. Urban.

Over the past 14 years under Justice Chris Maxwell’s reign as its president, 18 of the judgements of Victoria’s Court of Appeal have been overturned by the High Court, while in the previous decade, 10 of its judgements were reaffirmed and reversed only twice by the High Court. The analysis is in a report released today, by Victoria’s former chief crown prosecutor Gavin Silbert QC.  Continue reading

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Bradley Murdoch – how DNA may have misled the jury

Andrew L. Urban.

When juries in a circumstantial case are told of DNA, they assume that it’s a solid piece of evidence, unquestionable. The prosecution relies on this assumption and tells its story as if every DNA sample was like a brick. The case of Bradley Murdoch’s conviction for the murder of Peter Falconio is a strong example of why this is not so; even DNA can lead to unsafe convictions, as revealed in Channel 7’s investigative documentary mini series, Murder in the Outback,* which concluded on Sunday, July 19, 2020.  Continue reading

Posted in Case 12 Bradley Murdoch | 36 Comments

Robert Xie’s alibi – in bed with wife

He had an alibi. Why was he charged, tried and convicted? Robert Xie and his wife Kathy have always maintained he was in their bed beside her at the relevant time on the night of the Lin family murders, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2017. As the three learned judges retired last week to consider his appeal against the five murder convictions, they will come face to face with the single most crucial aspect of the case: Xie’s alibi – which the Crown has not disproved beyond reasonable doubt. Phillip Chapman’s July 3, 2020 comment on this is published here (with a background briefing) to bring it to greater prominence for our readers. Continue reading

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Secret strategies – how they secure murder convictions without evidence

In his book, Murder by the Prosecution (Wilkinson Publishing) ANDREW L. URBAN reports on murder trials that relied exclusively on circumstantial evidence and how these resulted in convictions – since overturned or under appeal. Through exploring these cases he came to recognise a pattern, secret strategies. He now adds the case of Robert Xie to the three examples in his book. Continue reading

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Sue Neill-Fraser August appeal date uncertain

The directions hearing in the Tasmanian Supreme Court before Justice Wood on Friday, July 3, 2020 was unable to settle on 17 August as the start date for the long awaited appeal against her 2010 murder conviction, reports Rosie Crumpton-Crook, Secretary of the Sue Neill-Fraser Support Group.  Continue reading

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 28 Comments